04/07/2013 09:42 am ET

Roger Ebert's Final Review For 'To The Wonder'

The Chicago Sun-Times has printed late film critic Roger Ebert's final review.

At the time of his death, Ebert's last published review was for "Twilight" creator Stephenie Meyer's latest film, "The Host." Ebert's review, which was posted on Mar. 27, was a fairly negative one, giving the film 2.5 out of 5 stars. Ebert did, however, find some greater meaning in the film, as he wrote:

Soul Melanie (known as Wanderer) falls in love with Earth Melanie, even though in theory this isn't possible because the Wanderer has become Melanie. This intimate form of self-love leads to dialogue that will possibly be found humorous by some people. When Wanda is about to kiss the boy she loves, for example, the film uses voiceover to warn her: "No, Melanie! Wrong! No! He's from another planet!"

True, in our own lives, we pick up warnings on that frequency: No! You'll get pregnant! No! He's from the other side of town! No! He's your best friend's boyfriend!" I imagine this as a version of one of those debates where little angels with harps and devils with pitchforks perch on your shoulders.

The Sun-Times has since published Ebert's review for "To The Wonder," the last review he wrote before his death on Thursday. A drama starring Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko, "To The Wonder" tells the story of a rocky relationship between an American man and a European woman. Published on Saturday, The Sun-Times noted, "The following is the last review written by Roger Ebert. Appropriately it’s a review of a film by a director Mr. Ebert held in great esteem: Terrence Malick."

Ebert, who died at the age of 70, awarded "To The Wonder" 3.5 stars, penning a generally favorable review:

As the film opened, I wondered if I was missing something. As it continued, I realized many films could miss a great deal. Although he uses established stars, Malick employs them in the sense that the French director Robert Bresson intended when he called actors “models.” Ben Affleck here isn’t the star of “Argo” but a man, often silent, intoxicated by love and then by loss. Bardem, as a priest far from home, made me realize as never before the loneliness of the unmarried clergy. Wandering in his empty church in the middle of the day, he is a forlorn figure, crying out in prayer and need to commune with his Jesus.

A more conventional film would have assigned a plot to these characters and made their motivations more clear. Malick, who is surely one of the most romantic and spiritual of filmmakers, appears almost naked here before his audience, a man not able to conceal the depth of his vision.

Later in the review, Ebert poetically questions the purpose of films:

“Well,” I asked myself, “why not?” Why must a film explain everything? Why must every motivation be spelled out? Aren’t many films fundamentally the same film, with only the specifics changed? Aren’t many of them telling the same story? Seeking perfection, we see what our dreams and hopes might look like. We realize they come as a gift through no power of our own, and if we lose them, isn’t that almost worse than never having had them in the first place?

Head over to The Sun-Times to read the entirety of Ebert's final review.

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